Truss warned of ‘extreme difficulty’ if Tories cannot unite
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Maria Caulfield has urged Liz Truss to help the Conservative Party “come together” otherwise it will become “extremely difficult” to work in the best interests of the country. Speaking to ITV’s Robert Peston on Wednesday night, Ms Caulfield, who was briefly health minister from July until Ms Truss’ election to Prime Minister in September, said the United Kingdom does “not want to see different factions of the party fighting among each other”. Her comments follow the conclusion of a turbulent Conservative Party Conference in which dissenting voices drew large crowds at fringe events and forced the PM into a u-turn on her tax policy, while Ms Truss’ most vehement opposition refused to even turn up.
Ms Caulfield said: “I do think we do need to come together as a party because we know from history that people don’t vote for divided parties.
“So, if we continue on this course then things are going to get extremely difficult.
“I am hoping that when we return to Parliament, there will be some outreaching to all colleagues because we are all in this together, whether you’re on the backbenches or in the Cabinet.
“We have got to come together. That is what the country wants. It does not want to see different factions of the party fighting among each other.”
Despite the Prime Minister’s keynote speech on Wednesday providing a positive end to an otherwise difficult conference, there were fresh warnings from Tory figures on Thursday morning.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries suggested Ms Truss is leading the Tories to a landslide defeat at the next general election by “lurching to the right”.
The longtime supporter of former PM, Boris Johnson, had been a strong advocate for Ms Truss during the leadership contest but appears unhappy with the mini-budget announcement.
She said: “I understand that we need to rocket-booster growth but you don’t do that by throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t win elections by lurching to the right and deserting the centre ground for Keir Starmer to place his flag on.
“If we continue down this path, we absolutely will be facing a Stephen Harper-type wipeout. I’m sure she’s listened and will stop and rethink.”
Ms Dorries was referencing the election defeat of Canadian conservative Stephen Harper to Justin Trudeau in 2015, which ended 10 years of right-wing rule.
But Tory party chairman Jake Berry urged colleagues to listen to Liz Truss’s message at conference and realise her “bold vision” for the country.
Asked if he is concerned about the current administration “driving the party over a cliff”, Mr Berry said: “If people listen to and look at what the Prime Minister said yesterday, I don’t think she was talking just to people in the conference hall, she was talking to the country about her vision.
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“I hope and believe that the country will listen to that, and I hope colleagues will listen to it and see that we do have a bold vision for our country to transform it to better the lives of families and people up and down this country.”
Meanwhile, Liz Truss will call for unity from European leaders to “address the fundamental causes” of energy and migration challenges as she attempts to move beyond splits within her party.
The Prime Minister will attend a summit of European leaders in Prague on Thursday, with French President Emmanuel Macron among those she is expected to meet.
Ms Truss travels to the Czech Republic for the meeting of the European Political Community after a difficult Conservative Party conference dominated by internal division and backbench opposition to some of her key policies.
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